As this age draws to a close and life gets increasingly stressful, fearful and seemingly out of control, most feel a need to escape. To do so, they seek various physical pleasures. What are the consequences of this—and what will be the final result?
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With the threat of terrorism, a struggling economy, increasing national debt, viruses and syndromes, child pornography, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the twenty-first century is certainly a frightful age to live in. Not to mention the more personal issues, such as unhappy relationships, debt, unemployment, taxes, and the unpleasant conditions in which most live each day. Therefore, it is no wonder that most people seek pleasure to escape.
In Part One, we showed that modern society has adopted a “play hard” mentality, encouraging those who are weary of their daily lives to escape. From an early age, most are trained to seek “fun.” The easiest, most readily available, and most “pleasant” thing to escape to, is some sort of pleasure.
The world has many “pleasures” to offer. Unfortunately, most of them are truly immoral and completely wrong. Even those pleasures that are not wrong in and of themselves are often used to excess—and therefore incorrectly.
We also identified one of the primary reasons why mankind seeks endless pleasures, why it desperately “needs” an avenue of escape—that is, the overall emptiness and lack of fulfillment in most people’s lives. We saw how this is primarily the case among the people living in the most blessed nations today, how it has eroded the strength of their nations—their work ethic and family values—and how it is a clear sign of their decline.
In this second part, we will address fear—another primary reason why people seek to escape. We will identify the consequences of continually seeking pleasures. We will also address a terrible time just ahead, when the most vile of pleasures will abound—and then a time just beyond that, when the need to escape will disappear altogether. At that time, true pleasures will prevail, along with correct instruction, understanding and priorities.
We are truly living in awesome times. They are also times of great paradoxes. While information abounds, and technology seemingly advances daily with great leaps, most in the Western World (particularly those in the English-speaking countries) live with a feeling of insecurity. Since September 11, the threat of terrorism has become an almost daily factor in our lives. The great “Fortress America” was no longer untouchable. For the first time in several decades, Americans were actually frightened for their national and individual lives.
Continuing from that event, there was quite suddenly the flaring up of world religious strife—Christianity vs. Islam. And then a war in Iraq, followed by almost daily killings of the liberating forces. Others fear the seemingly indiscriminate proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Europeans and Americans alike are concerned with countries like Iran and North Korea possessing nuclear weapons. And yet, most people seemingly refuse to admit how truly frightening these times are. Unfortunately, most do not even concern themselves with these “big” problems.
Fear of the unknown, and even of the little-known, will drive most to seek an escape, to find something more pleasurable than the cares and concerns of daily life, hoping that their problems will simply go away. But they do not—and this usually leads to much bigger problems. In fact, what is commonplace among individuals typically extends to a regional society and then to a nation as a whole. Could anyone honestly believe that if most citizens do not deal with their problems that their nation will deal with its own problems?
On another point of paradox, we are so far removed from the last great world calamity (World War II) that very few understand and appreciate the realities of the violence and hatred that occurred then, and the similarities today. Yet at the same time, we all experienced, in explicit detail, large airplanes crashing into skyscrapers, and a modern army overrunning two countries within a matter of weeks.
But how much did these recent events really change your daily life? While, for some, there is increased reason to be fearful, for most, there is also increased desensitization, callousness, and preoccupation with the self. Both, however, often lead one to seek “something more comforting”—to endlessly seek those pleasures and escape.
Despite experiencing life with so much instant and graphic information, we are simply unable to properly describe, to make real, the incredible immensity of events and their implications in our time. While most find the frightening aspects of today’s world “unacceptable,” the inability to understand them leads many to hope—even believe—that things could not be that bad. And so, most go about their daily lives, largely concerned only about themselves and their problems, and seeking pleasures to escape them.
The level at which most seek and escape into these pleasures is of and by itself rather disturbing. The increased greed in society has not only removed most from the true pleasures of life—such as time with family, preparing and enjoying good food, or experiencing God’s beautiful creation—it has also created a need to have more—to never be satisfied. The little bit of pleasure that was fun yesterday quickly becomes tiring and unexciting, and so the search quickly begins for something “new,” something a little more stimulating. This is typically how one or two drinks lead to several, how experimenting with a drug often leads to heavier drug use, and how the addiction to sports can lead to an addiction to “extreme” sports.
And so the spiral continues downward, with a never-ending seeking of greater thrills and spills. Yet the feeling of emptiness and lack of fulfillment remain. So does the fear (and the reality) of personal problems, and the world’s larger problems. In fact, the emptiness and difficulties more than likely increased during, and as a consequence of, the continual escape! The pleasure, and the escape it brought, was only very temporary. No one really can avoid the realities of life. They simply must always be dealt with eventually.
Tragically, some deal with the extreme of their desperation with the ultimate method of escape—suicide. The inability to cope with life quickly diminishes any sense of purpose and hope and, at that point, some see taking their own life as their only option. Suicide statistics are quite telling, particularly among young men in most English-speaking nations:
A 1999 study by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention showed that the suicide rate among males rose significantly from 1964 to 1997, particularly in the age groups of 15-24 years and 25-34 (Australian suicide trends 1964-1997: Youth and Beyond?).
A similar study from the New Zealand Health Information Service showed that the male suicide rate increased by 72% from 1978 to 1997, with the highest number of male suicides occurring among 25-29 year-olds (New Zealand Ministry of Health, Suicide Trends in New Zealand 1978-98).
In the United States, from information compiled by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (a subsidiary of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention), suicide is overall the 11th leading cause of death for all Americans. However, it is the third leading cause for those ages 15-24. Just fewer than 30,000 Americans took their own lives in 2000, which is 1.7 times the number of homicides.
The descent into complete misery, however, most often does not end in suicide. The vast majority continue with their pleasure-seeking escapism. Whether it be through drugs and alcohol, illicit and improper sex, endless movies and television, or constant socializing and partying, most are ignorantly content remaining addicted to their vice.
Most young people will imitate adults with their own form of “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.” At the same time, they also rebel against the futility of the world around them. This protesting is of and by itself a form of escape, a yearning for a more stable present and a brighter future.
Fortunately, a brighter future is just beyond the horizon. However, it is not visible to most, and will only come after a far more terrifying period that is now fast approaching, referred to in the Bible as the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21). Mankind has been living his own way, in rebellion to God, for the last 6,000 years, and his time is just about up. Since Adam and Eve chose to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, a fruit that was “…good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes…” (Gen. 3:6), mankind has rejected God. They have instead insisted on doing things their own way, exposing themselves to the influence of Satan the devil, who deceives the whole world (Rev. 12:9).
By doing things his way for 6,000 years, man has experienced great destruction, evil and misery—as evidenced by his now insatiable need to seek pleasures and escape. God has allowed man this choice, and will further allow it to culminate in the very near future, during a short but horrendous time of trouble.
The prophet Ezekiel spoke of this time and, in fact, warned the modern-day descendents of ancient Israel of this soon-coming time of calamity. Notice how Ezekiel even spoke of the modern game of “let’s pretend,” and how he prophesied that our leaders would in fact encourage it: “Then said He unto me, Son of man, these are the men [the “spiritual” leaders of the nation] that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city: Which say, It is not near [the impending destruction]; let us build houses…” (Ezek. 11:2-3).
Does this sound familiar to the post-September 11th rally cry?
Our entire system is based on greed. The vast majority of advertising today is promoting, in one form or another, pleasures and escapism: “Build a new house, buy a new car, get a boat, look ‘beautiful’ with this gimmick or cosmetic, relieve that ailment with this pill and, while you’re at it, have another drink.”
Most do not understand the purpose of life—and they live in fear. They fear a war between Christianity and Islam, another major terrorist attack, and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of dictators.
Despite how most feel, there is, as Sir Winston Churchill once said, “…a purpose being worked out here below.” The Great God and Creator of the entire universe did not create man to live a futile and fearful life. There is much more to our physical existence than meets the eye!
From the very beginning, God intended every human to eventually be a part of His DIVINE FAMILY. That means to be like Him, to be a son of God—to be a great, powerful, SPIRIT BEING with absolutely perfect, holy, righteous character. He most certainly did not intend for us to be aimlessly living, with little or no sense of purpose, continually seeking pleasures to escape from the inexplicable and fearsome realities of our lives.
This great Plan, however, has been hidden for most of mankind’s existence. In fact, a counterfeit was devised by Satan thousands of years ago, and has been implemented and assured support by his servants ever since. During the 6,000 years that God has allowed man to live his own way, this counterfeit has dominated the world, causing mass confusion, despair and destruction.
It has confused, for example, most people’s belief regarding creation, the authority of the Bible, the nature of God, His purpose for mankind, His Great Plan, humanity’s inability to solve its problems, the history and identity of God’s true Church, the concepts of conversion, faith and salvation, what happens after death, and how world peace, happiness and prosperity will finally come.
You can even live a joyful, abundant life right now. This is what God intended! Many spend countless hours seeking pleasures and some sort of happiness, but, unfortunately, they are often looking in all the wrong places. Living God’s Way (instead of your own), by His laws, can and will bring you happiness, joy, and an abundant life now. In such a condition, this life can be forerunner, in a very small way, of what eternal life in the God Family will be like. Notice what Jesus Christ said: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Christ’s followers, true Christians, do indeed have life more abundantly. But you may be asking, “Why don’t I have an abundant life? And what are true Christians anyway?” Notice Romans 8:9: “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” True Christians have the Spirit of God. Many believe in Christ, yet do not have God’s Holy Spirit, and therefore are not Christians at all. The physical carnal mind is, in fact, hostile to God and His Way (Rom. 8:7).
The Christian life in today’s world, however, is not as some would have you believe, some sort of happy-go-lucky, easy-as-pie fairy tale. It involves hard work! God’s servants are busy overcoming and conquering sin. We are preparing now to be a part of the God Family when Christ returns to this earth. By putting God first in our lives, we can have proper priorities, seeking His will, and then be able to perform it. One way in which God’s will is done is through His Work—producing magazines such as this—providing the REAL TRUTH about the gospel of the kingdom of God to the entire world.
Living God’s Way helps you to appreciate and be thankful for what you already have, and will lead you to be more concerned about others. It provides knowledge and vision of God’s Plan. Gone is the fear of this present world and its near future. Gone is the void created by a lack of understanding about our great purpose. There is no need to endlessly seek pleasures—there is simply no longer a need to escape one’s daily life.
You can live the abundant life NOW—simply stop rejecting God in your life, admit that man’s way, your way, is wrong. Notice I John 1:3-4: “…truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” (For more details, read our free article “You Can Live the ABUNDANT LIFE!”)
The soon-coming Great Tribulation will be mankind’s final lesson in a history of living his own way apart from God. It will be the end of this age—the end of this period of time in man’s or the earth’s existence. Fortunately, the Tribulation will be cut short: “…but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:22). Christ will return to this earth as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16) to establish God’s government. His government is, of course, the basis or foundation of His Way. It will, in fact, be the driving force behind great change on earth.
The peoples and nations of the world will at first resist Christ. He will have to destroy that world-dominating seventh and final Holy Roman Empire, and free the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel to return to their homeland (Jer. 30:7-10). As an example to the rest of the world, they will be the first to experience living under God’s government, being taught how to live happy, healthy, prosperous and abundant lives.
Other peoples and nations will then see and want to learn about and live the same way, but some will still rebel and attack and have to be forced to live the right way. God’s government will spread across and rule the entire earth (Dan. 2:44; 7:14). Christ will be King, and He will rule with His saints—those humans who had been called as “firstfruits,” and had successfully completed their training to become perfect, righteous God-beings at Christ’s Return.
The new world government will include one world religion. All peoples will be taught the correct understanding of God, His Way and His Plan. Mankind will understand his purpose, and the concept of “cause and effect”—the great blessings that come as a result of living God’s Way (Isa. 11:6-9). This government will also include one system of education. It will be a combination of FAMILY, CHURCH and STATE. Parents will teach and train their children to be happy, industrious and obedient. The Church will teach everyone on God’s weekly Holy Sabbath and during the annual Holy Days, about the right way to live, about God, and about His Great Plan. And schools will teach everyone the truth about God’s creation and mankind’s history—in fact, schools will teach the truth about every subject.
People in this wonderful world to come will be truly happy and fulfilled. There will be no need to endlessly seek pleasures. There will be no need to escape. Fear of the present and future will be abolished. The void of meaningless existence will be filled with a proper, correct sense of purpose. Gone will be the spirit of competition that drives commercials to scream and make you scream, “I want more!” Gone will be drug abuse and the immoral excesses of alcohol, and the improper—perverted—use of sex. Movies and television will depict correct, educational examples of life. Sports will be uncompetitive, un-aggressive and truly entertaining. Family vacations will be a time to draw closer together and closer to God and His Creation. All will be done in moderation, in decency and in good order. (If you wish to learn more about this exciting time just ahead, read our free book TOMORROW’S WONDERFUL WORLD – An Inside View!)
The world to come is indeed an exciting time to consider. As just a part of God’s Great Plan, it is truly magnificent. Those of us who understand and are working toward that time live without fear of the present or future. We live purposeful lives, with a sense of security, confidence and faith.
You may be tired of endlessly seeking pleasures and trying to escape. You may be tired of living in fear and filling a seemingly endless void in your life. If this is the case and if you want to know more about the abundant life that you can start living today, and about God’s Plan, be sure to read the literature offered in this article.
It is your choice. It may be time you finally stopped trying to escape. It may be time you faced reality head-on.